Mikitani reveals the obvious!

Amazing why so few businesses understand it.

Check out his post on LinkedIn: Why Do People Buy?

He went through a classic deep understanding exercise — and again it’s astounding how few people, even those in sales and marketing have done this — and came up with:

I came to this conclusion: People buy for a variety of reasons – some reasons are unique to a single individual. But a common reason – an answer to the question “why” that stretches across global markets, across demographics, across product categories, is this: people buy things is because it is fun.

You can now explain Apple: Insanely great is fun. Showing off insanely great to your friends is fun. Hope they don’t forget that — by the way, it includes the shopping experience, not just the product.

As Boyd insisted, actions flow from orientation, so if your orientation isn’t a good model of unfolding reality (i.e., better than your competitions’ and for that matter, your customers’), don’t bother with the rest of your business strategy.

Or as Mikitani summarized it:

See things the way they really are.  Ask “why” over and over again.

6 thoughts on “Mikitani reveals the obvious!

  1. Very nice. But — and I promise I’m not asking this as a wisecrack — the deeper question is why is buying fun?

    Also, I’m not sure “fun” is the right term. “Pleasurable,” or even “gratifying,” might be more accurate. This is important because not only do different purchases trigger different pleasures but different stages of the buying process can be associated with (or triggered by) different pleasures.

    Learning about and getting to choose between different options is different than unboxing the thing you’ve newly purchased is different than using it and then purchasing an upgrade is different than showing off your new purchase, etc. Buying wine is decidedly different than buying a new hot water heater. Buying good wine IS fun, at least for many of us. Buying a new tankless hot water heater might be gratifying in the sense of DIY home improvement, but I’m not sure many would call it fun.

    Making buying wine more “fun” makes a lot of sense. Making buying a hot water heater “fun” doesn’t. Most retailers would do best to just make it less painful… which I think sort of gets into the Chen /Ch’i idea. Amazon does this brilliantly. One-click ordering and Prime take the friction and pain away. User reviews, recommendations, huge selection make it fun.

    In fact, I’d say sometimes the fun doesn’t even surface until after the retailer has banished the pain and friction. Lots more males are shopping these days online then they ever did before the days of e-commerce. They never thought shopping was fun before because it was mostly a pain in the butt. Now they’re very much into gratifying their itch to shop and buy online.

    Anyway, just some semi-random thoughts. Again, nice post — thanks for the food for thought.

    • Jeff,

      Thanks for the comment. You have a very good point: No reason to stop asking “Why?” just at the level of fun. Traditionally in Five Whys practice, you don’t stop until you get to a process. So, is “fun” a process?

      Buying a new tankless hot water heater might be gratifying in the sense of DIY home improvement, but I’m not sure many would call it fun.

      Making buying wine more “fun” makes a lot of sense. Making buying a hot water heater “fun” doesn’t.

      Well, if it helped you sell more hot water heaters and whatever else you have, why wouldn’t it make sense? And it may not be easy, but it would definitely be ch’i.

      Totally agree with you on Amazon. I’m also a Prime member and recommend it highly. However, I still shop locally. Nothing like good salesmanship and a cup of coffee — occasionally a glass of wine — to make shopping fun. However, if they blow their chance, it’s back to Amazon.


      • “Well, if it helped you sell more hot water heaters and whatever else you have, why wouldn’t it make sense?”

        Have to agree with that one! As we say in the CRO world: Testing rules and opinion drools. If it works, it works, and your job is to implement what works and learn from it (assuming it’s ethical and in accordance with your core values, etc.) It keeping with that theme, I do know of one situation where fun worked in what most of us would assume to be an environment that wouldn’t be very amenable to that tactic. A friend of mine tripled sales in his electrician’s wholesale store by making things more fun. Professional electricians and contractors are human, too, and they’d rather enjoy their shopping than not.

        At the same time I’m reminded of the doctor who went all out to re-make his waiting room to make things pleasant — cappucino maker, bottled water, better magazines, comfortable seating, nice decor, etc. — and did nothing to eliminate or reduce wait times or create more precise scheduling. The fun aspect is all well and good, but reducing friction and frustration probably would have served him better. Of course, doing both is best, but I believe that different industries present different amounts of opportunity over the two “fronts” of decreasing friction and increasing pleasure.

      • Jeff — thanks. Very good point that we sometimes forget. It’s no fun putting up with a beautiful but slow website with broken links or waiting in line in a stunning store for a checkout position to free up. For the cheng / chi pattern to work, it has to be cheng


        chi. Ideally, the expected (cheng) should be transparent, that is, it works so well that it doesn’t call attention to itself.

        Sun Tzu suggested “engage with the cheng, win with the ch’i.”

  2. My research, when looking at ‘Perceptions of purchasers towards coaching in the natural environment’ (AKA Why don’t they get out of the box?) showed consistently three things round why people do or don’t buy 1)Time; all aspects thereof 2) Cost 3) The psycho-social implication.

    As every job is a ‘sales job’, one could argue one should be continually oriented to these points. My clients are; it works.

    • Cliff,

      Thanks — years ago, a CEO of Northrop insisted that “Everyone at Northrop is in marketing.” It’s a great slogan, but the trick is to take action so that it isn’t just a platitude.

      I can certainly believe that it works.

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